La Calle Doce Has Been Serving Mexican Seafood for 30 Years. Here's How.
In 1981, Laura and Oscar Sanchez opened La Calle Doce in small house in Oak Cliff. Now, more than 30 years later, with the recent addition of a new bar and patio, it stands as a staple for Mexican seafood in Dallas.
Laura and Silka Sanchez
Raised in Monterrey, Mexico, Laura's father instilled in her the importance of an education, which drove her to excel in school, eventually earning her a full academic scholarship to Warren Wilson College in North Carolina. She says the most distinctive measure of her American education was its directive to think for herself.
Laura works closely with her daughter Silka, who was essentially raised in this wood frame restaurant on 12th Street. Together they, along with many other family members, run La Calle Doce in Oak Cliff and in Lakewood, as well as El Ranchito. The conversation, part of our ongoing series of chef interviews, begins with Silka.
You grew up in the restaurant business.
Yes, I was 3 years old in 1981 when they first opened the restaurant.
What are some of your earliest memories here?
We were just always here. But it was so much different then -- so much smaller. My brother and I would watch TV back in the office and peek out every now and then, but mostly we just stayed in the back and watched TV.
What did you learn from watching your parents work so much?
Dedication. They spent so much time here. Since we've been around for over 30 years, sometimes it's easy for me to forget all the time and effort they put into this place. But my mom has always worked so hard.
Also, I've learned that you have to have an eye on everything all the time. That's one good thing we have going with my aunt and uncles being managers here. So many family members are involved and that helps a lot.
What did you learn from your mom about working with people?
I have learned a lot from her. She's very tough. As a woman running a restaurant it's important to her not to be perceived as weak and she's taught me that -- even though it's not really my forte. And she's hard on a lot of the guys and different reps that come through here. But, being a female in this business, you have to be strong.
As a child growing up in the area, where did you eat?
My dad loved food, so we always had our certain restaurants. There was an old Chinese food restaurant called Hunan's on Greenville and we went there every Sunday. Kostas Café was our favorite Greek place. He also loved to make Italian food at home. But other than that, we ate here almost every meal. Which while it tastes good, it's not so good on your weight. That's why I have my own plate on the menu with ceviche and a salmon taco.
How has the Dallas food scene has evolved recently?
Well, after high school I moved away for about eight years for college and work. Then, I came back in 2005 and since then, Oak Cliff has changed so much.
(Her mother Laura arrives.)